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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia calls OSCE letter on parliamentary polls 'propaganda'

RIA Novosti

10/12/2007 20:11 MOSCOW, December 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Monday a recent letter sent by the OSCE to the foreign minister was part of a Western propaganda campaign aimed at discrediting Russia's parliamentary election.

"It is absolutely evident that [OSCE representative Miklos] Haraszti's message was a part of propaganda attempts to discredit Russian parliamentary elections made by certain forces in the West," the ministry said in a statement.

Haraszti, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's representative on freedom of the media, wrote a letter to Sergei Lavrov voicing concerns over alleged press freedom violations during the December 2 election to the lower house of parliament, the State Duma.

The ministry said Haraszti's claims that Russian law enforcement agencies applied the law in an "arbitrary" manner during the election was absolutely ungrounded.

The statement said the OSCE official failed to provide any examples of alleged violence against independent media.

"Even a cursory look through Haraszti's letter is astonishing," the ministry said. "We are faced with an explosive mixture of unprofessionalism and a drive to see all things relating to Russia in a negative light."

The OSCE's main election monitoring arm, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), boycotted Russia's parliamentary elections, citing visa delays and "unprecedented restrictions." The OSCE subsequently declared the elections "not fair."

Although the OSCE is recognized by Western countries as the main authority on election monitoring, whose approval is vital to declaring elections free and fair, Russia has in the past accused the organization of bias toward pro-Western opposition parties.

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